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Wednesday, 18 October 2006
Page: 189

Mr LINDSAY (12:45 PM) —I will be short in my comments. There is bipartisan support for the Crimes Act Amendment (Forensic Procedures) Bill (No. 1) 2006 and for very good reasons. The bill demonstrates the government’s ongoing commitment to the fight against crime by making this facilitation. It will provide very valuable investigative information to law enforcement agencies right across Australia. I note that Australia will probably be light years ahead of the United States in relation to the sharing of information to enable us to better fight crime.

I know that the states and territories have expressed some concerns about the sharing of this information and the legality under the current legislation. The government did not have that view, but to put the matter finally at rest we have this bill before the House today. This will ensure that interjurisdictional DNA profile matching can occur.

A couple of years ago I took the trouble to satisfy myself that the security and integrity of these DNA databases was okay. I came away absolutely satisfied that that was the case. There were some concerns in the community at the time that DNA information stored by agencies could be used for purposes other than what they were put in place for. There were suggestions that, for example, if you had a person’s DNA, you would be able to work out what their medical risks were in the future and that insurance companies would be very interested in that sort of information. But I am indeed satisfied of the integrity of the databases that are held in the country today.

I would in fact go further in relation to DNA databases. I have long been on the public record arguing for every person’s DNA in Australia to be recorded, to be available for use in relation to crime issues and also for identification. From time to time there are horrific road accidents, for example, or there are people who lose their mind and do not know who or where they are. A national DNA database could well be used to identify those people and put their identification beyond doubt.

Australia, perhaps, is not quite ready for that yet, but the time will come. When it comes, it will be a very valuable tool for the police forces of Australia. I know the police forces would like to see it and strongly support it right now. I think the community is turning around. They are beginning to realise that these sorts of databases do not get misused. They are used for the purposes that they were designed for. I certainly wanted to add my support to this bill. I am very much in favour of our commitment to fighting crime through these modern scientific methods.

Debate interrupted.

Sitting suspended from 12.49 pm to 4.03 pm